BW and Color

More often than not, I know what I’m going to do for post processing on a photo after I shoot it, but sometimes it’s a hard call. I don’t know if I want black and white (which for all intensive purposes in this post, will include Sepia toning, just for kicks) or color in the end result. There are a few things I like to bare in mind while making this decision:

  1. What do I want the viewer to focus on
  2. What mood do I want to convey
  3. Will the color in the picture take away from it as a whole

If I want the viewer to focus more on lines, expressions and contrast, I’ll opt for a black and white picture. Also, if the color in the photograph is not particularly appealing I might also convert to monochrome. Color is one of those things that, a lot of the time, is only noticed if it is really good, or really bad. So, if I can’t somehow glean a few decent colors (as in colors that wouldn’t otherwise detract from the overall picture) from my RAWs during post, then I’ll either re-shoot whatever it is, or convert to black and white, or not use that shot at all and start over.

Another good example would be if I happened upon an Escher-like staircase somewhere, but it was a vibrant, neon green, I would also then convert to black and white. The color is distracting from the subject, which would mainly be the lines and contrast/tone of the stairs.

Since we’re dealing with still images, nothing moves, so you can look and look and look at the smallest details. One thing I’ve noticed, is that maybe there’s a tiny imperfection in your lens somewhere, and it shows up in your photo. The problem I run into is, once I’ve seen something like that in my picture, my eyes are immediately drawn to it every time I look. This same problem could potentially come up with color, if it is particularly bad. I suppose it could come up with just about anything else in pictures too.

Some folks may argue that monochrome pictures look a little more “fine artsy” and “precious” which is kind of dumb. It seems silly to all of a sudden label something FINE ART when its black and white, like it somehow becomes more complex when there’s no color to ogle.

Just a few things to keep in the back of your head



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